What is Solomom Edebiri, the Edo State Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) governorship aspirant, up to? The technocrat, businessman and Benin chief is on the popularity weighing scale as he warms up for the primary election. Many observers believe that he has a big hurdle before him. But, at the weekend, the aspirant reiterated his resolve to succeed Governor Adams Oshiomhole. “I have goodwill among the people of Edo and this gives me confidence,” he told reporters in Lagos.
“We need to have a government that will cater for the future. How can the state grow without a solid foundation? I am on a rescue mission. That is the motivation for entering the race,” he added.
However, it is a moment of storm and stress for his party. Not only has the party lost power at the federal level, it is also grasping for breath in Edo. Greed, disunity and godfatherism are the bane of the Edo chapter. Yet, Edebiri is of the view that the party has prospect, if it can put its house in order. Noting that the governorship poll offers an opportunity for the chapter to bounce back, he , however warned that the chance can be bungled, if a wrong candidate is picked. “If a wrong candidate is picked, the exodus from the party will be worse,” he stressed.
Edebiri believes that the PDP needs a new name to sell it to the people of Edo. This corresponds to a call for a clean break from the past. Flaunting his credentials, he said his competence, clear understanding of Edo, liberal disposition and cognate experience as an operator in the oil industry for 26 years have marked him out. He urged delegates to swing the pendulum of victory towards his direction during the shadow poll.
Unfolding his vision, he said:”My vision for Edo State as a governor is to build s state on strong foundation that future leaders can build upon, a state where human capacity development , technology transfer and industrial development will be top on the agenda, where the state can become an export hub rather than an import based economy to guarantee self-satisfaction, confidence in the future within a healthy environment and sound educational base.”
The first critical step to the electioneering is fortifying the party. Edo PDP, in the aspirant’s opinion, needs to present itself as a better alternative. “We must move away from the greed and disunity of the past and ensure cohesion,” he said. To forge unity and harmony in the party, he promised to use his liberal disposition to bring stakeholders together and chart a new course. Edebiri said the party must know that the All Progressives Congress (APC) is not sleeping on guard. He said a wrong flag bearer will boost the chance of the ruling party at the poll. “APC is interested in the PDP primary. We can’t afford to get it wrong,” he stressed.
If elected as governor, Edebiri said he will restore the lost glory of Edo. “In the past, we had bendel Insurance Company, Edo Line, Bendel Breweries. All these industries have been castrated. There is job loss, no money for trade and nowhere to work. We need to revive the dead industries and create job opportunities for youths,” he said. If these are done, the aspirant said crime, corruption, armed robbery, kidnapping and insecurity will end.
Edebiri acknowledged that Oshiomhole has done well in certain areas. He applauded him for constructing roads. But, he alleged that the governor has ignored other areas, including transportation, industrialisation, healthcare and human capacity development. The PDP chieftain also chided the administration for what he described as the tax burden. He said: “If the intent of the leader is at variance with the intent of the people, things will not work.”
The aspirant promised to harness the resources of the state to fuel its development. Noting that Edo is endowed with a lot of mineral resources, he said these can be converted into financial resources, instead of leaning on the now elusive federal allocation. He said the state will survive if it creates wealth, instead of the penchant for sharing wealth.
Edebiri also said that Edo should embrace agriculture as a viable alternative for revenue generation. “I will initiate one local government, one commercial crop syndrome. We have studied the local governments. Some can engage in rice planting. Others can go for cassava. We have local governments that can go for pineapples,” he added.
This interview was first published by The Nation Newspaper